Learning about periods and discretion
My period shame began the afternoon they separated the girls and boys in our class.
I only know what happened with the girls. We were grouped in the school hall and told glorious and horrific stories about our impending menstruation cycle. At the end of it, we were each given a couple of sanitary pads, pink for daytime and blue for bed, and we shuffled back to class, whispering in awe at our new knowledge.
We had been explicitly told, that this new secret of womanhood was not to be shared with the boys in our class. We hid our pads and never said a word when they questioned us on our session. We were almost women and discretion was key. Apparently.
Nightmare: period stains
Over the next few years, my female classmates and I got our period. Once a month, I'd stand gingerly, and, having developed a code with the girl who sat behind me, I'd whisper to her, 'check my back'. I needed a clearance before showing myself before my male classmates. It didn't help that our uniforms were plain white dresses. The fear of walking around with an unknown period stain was a recurring nightmare.
I thought two decades had been sufficient time to unlearn this pubescent shame. I was wrong.
Why are we so ashamed?
I was sure the fact that my boyfriend at the time was proper, to a fault, contributed to it.
But one morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom, and upon sitting on the toilet scene realized that my legs looked straight out of a crime scene. Blood everywhere. Well, not everywhere, but that’s what it looked like to my panicking brain. If there was period streaking down my legs, it had to be ALL OVER the bed! What sort of absolute nightmare was it for my menses to start a week early and with such a vengeance?
'OhgodOhgodOhgod,' I whispered under my breath as I used tons of toilet paper to clean the blood off.
What would I even say? Why was it necessary to think of anything to say except the very simple and obvious?
Why did it have to be a man who obsessively changed his sheets every three days and would only use a towel once? He was going to die when he saw the damage.
Maybe I would offer to buy him a new set of sheets and mattress. And throw in a bed for good measure. These were the thoughts going through my mind as I walked slowly out of the bathroom.
'Hey, I’m sorry but…'
My voice trailed off. The man had already taken out the undoubtedly bloody sheets and was in the process of laying a fresh set.
'Just doing a quick load of laundry, don’t worry about it. Here’s a clean pair of shorts. Do you need me to make a quick run for tampons, painkillers, and chocolate?'
Care and respect
I burst out crying right there; it was mostly my hormones at work, but that was the most care and respect my bleeding out uterus had ever received.
There’s only one lesson I took through this experience. If he acts like your period is anything other than the basic biological reaction that it is and doesn’t offer chocolate, he’s canceled.
And one other smaller point, that is, I intentionally and comfortably speak about my monthly bloody visits. And if he's not comfortable with that, too bad.
Does anything stop you from speaking about periods openly? Share your story below or on Facebook.